Best Cheap Cell Phones

Looking for a basic phone that won't empty your wallet? These models are some of the best easy-to-use and cheap cellphones from a variety of carriers.
LG Lucid

LG Lucid

Reviewed October 2012

LG Lucid keeps price low and performance high

Pros: Bright, colorful display, comfortable, compact design, fast processor, quick 4G LTE speeds, good camera

Cons: Poor call quality, video quality issues, outdated Android software

Verizon Wireless
*Est. $20 with contract
 
BlackBerry Curve 9310 (Boost Mobile)

BlackBerry Curve 9310 (Boost Mobile)

Reviewed October 2012

Boost Mobile's BlackBerry Curve 9310 is a great texting phone with an affordable no-contract plan

Pros: Cheap monthly plan, responsive keyboard, solid call quality, easy to hold

Cons: Old operating system, few apps on offer, slow 3G speeds

Boost Mobile
*Est. $80, no contract
 
BlackBerry Curve 9360

BlackBerry Curve 9360

Reviewed June 2012

Dependable BlackBerry with Wi-Fi calling capability

Pros: Responsive QWERTY keyboard, wi-Fi calling

Cons: Mixed call quality, mixed data speeds, lack of third-party apps

T-Mobile
Free with new contract
 
Pantech Breeze III

Pantech Breeze III

Reviewed March 2012

Affordable entry-level flip phone keeps it simple

Pros: Great call quality, affordable, spacious keyboard, spacious keyboard

Cons: Headphone jack only takes microUSB, poor image quality, looks exactly like its predecessor

AT&T
*Est. $30 with contract
 
Samsung Freeform III

Samsung Freeform III

Reviewed February 2012

Samsung's low-cost prepaid phone offers good call quality, but short battery life

Pros: Good call quality, responsive keyboard, clear display

Cons: Slow Internet, poor photo quality, short battery life

MetroPCS
from $48.88 with new contract
 
Samsung Replenish

Samsung Replenish

Reviewed February 2012

Affordable and eco-friendly Android candybar phone keeps it simple

Pros: Tactile physical keyboard, recyclable, made of recycled components, good call quality

Cons: No Flash support, slow processor, plastic feel, low-resolution screen

SprintBoost Mobile
from $99.99 with new contract
 
Pantech Crossover

Pantech Crossover

Reviewed February 2012

Affordable Android slider sports physical QWERTY keyboard

Pros: Roomy QWERTY keyboard, great battery life, decent camera

Cons: Mixed call quality, slow data speeds, small display

AT&T
Free with contract
 
Samsung SGH-T259

Samsung SGH-T259

Reviewed November 2011

A simple but excellent voice phone for T-Mobile

Pros: Exceptional call quality, memory expandable up to 32 GB, simple to use, inexpensive

Cons: Headphone jack and microUSB share a port, camera is weak in dim light, limited messaging capabilities, external finish is prone to smudging

T-Mobile
Free with new contract
 
Samsung Transform

Samsung Transform

Reviewed November 2011

Samsung Transform raises the bar for mid-range features

Pros: Excellent physical keyboard, front-facing camera

Cons: Slow to respond at times, adequate (but not great) screen

Sprint
*Est. $50 with contract
 
Sanyo Taho

Sanyo Taho

Reviewed November 2011

Taho is a rugged phone with basic features

Pros: Durable, good navigation array, large, raised keys, good battery life

Cons: No music or video player, abundance of bloatware, no push-to-talk, mixed call quality, no social networking features, slow web browser

Sprint
*Est. $50 with contract
 
BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

Reviewed November 2011

Affordable smartphone for the BlackBerry loyalist

Pros: Small and slim, wi-Fi calling capability, long battery life

Cons: Identical to older model, poor image quality, small selection of third-party apps, slow browser

AT&TSprintVerizon WirelessT-Mobile
From $0.01 with contract
 
Motorola Flipside

Motorola Flipside

Reviewed October 2011

AT&T's Flipside is a cheaply priced smartphone with a spacious keyboard

Pros: Large slide-out keyboard, seamless social integration, cheap price tag, bright, colorful screen

Cons: Poor battery life, hissing sound during calls, poor camera quality

AT&T
Discontinued
 
Samsung Profile

Samsung Profile

Reviewed October 2011

Entry-level messaging phone with large screen and roomy keyboard

Pros: Roomy QWERTY keyboard, affordable, good call quality, large screen

Cons: MicroSD card slot located behind the battery, navigation array a bit cramped, pixelated video playback

U.S. Cellular
Discontinued
 
LG Apex

LG Apex

Reviewed September 2011

The LG Apex is a decent budget Android phone for U.S. Cellular

Pros: Compact handset, crisp screen resolution, user-friendly keyboard

Cons: Lags in performance, even with simple tasks, poor-quality camera, runs outdated Android version 2.1

U.S. Cellular
Discontinued
 
Pantech Laser

Pantech Laser

Reviewed August 2011

Slim Pantech phone ideal for messaging, otherwise falters

Pros: Bright AMOLED display, slim design, roomy QWERTY keyboard

Cons: Unresponsive touch screen, no 3.5 mm headphone jack, weak reception and average call quality, full of bloatware

AT&T
Free with contract
 
LG Optimus T

LG Optimus T

Reviewed August 2011

Cheap Android smartphone packs plenty of features

Pros: Bright, legible screen, wi-Fi calling and mobile hotspot capabilities, speedy performance, easy to use

Cons: Screen size, occasional lag

T-Mobile
Free with contract
 
HTC Inspire 4G

HTC Inspire 4G

Reviewed July 2011

Sleek, affordable HTC Inspire 4G lags on 4G data speeds

Pros: Price, large screen, easy-to-use menus, excellent call quality, impressive camera

Cons: Large and slightly heavy, data speeds slow for 4G, battery cover difficult to remove

AT&T
*Est. $100 with contract
 
Samsung Messager III

Samsung Messager III

Reviewed July 2011

Cheap messaging phone is solid, but has performance issues

Pros: Wide QWERTY keyboard, solid build, sharp display

Cons: Low-res camera, sluggish browser, slow processor

MetroPCS
*Est. $70, no contract
 
Motorola Defy

Motorola Defy

Reviewed July 2011

Motorola Defy's sleek packaging can withstand the elements

Pros: Water- and scratch-resistant, bright touch screen, sleek, yet durable design, wi-Fi calling

Cons: Motoblur interface causes phone to lag, doesn't work on 4G network, wi-Fi calling can cause dropped calls, older version of Android

T-Mobile
Discontinued
 
Motorola Rambler

Motorola Rambler

Reviewed July 2011

Motorola Rambler provides great call quality on a budget

Pros: Great call quality, affordable, full QWERTY keyboard

Cons: No music player, no Wi-Fi, slow data speeds, poor photo quality and no easy way to transfer pictures, low screen resolution

Boost Mobile
Discontinued
 
LG Optimus S

LG Optimus S

Reviewed July 2011

LG Optimus S marries power-packed features with cheap price tag

Pros: Price, bright touch screen visible in sunlight, speedy processor performance, has some physical buttons

Cons: Lacks latest hardware, poor Flash performance in web browser, mixed reviews of battery life

Sprint
Free with contract
 
Cricket MSGM8 II

Cricket MSGM8 II

Reviewed February 2011

Affordable, no-contract candybar phone with basic features

Pros: Price, generous features, great GPS functionality

Cons: Cramped keyboard, poor photo quality, no media player or microSD card slot

Cricket Wireless
Discontinued
 
Pantech Breeze II

Pantech Breeze II

Reviewed December 2010

Cheap, entry-level phone is a breeze to use

Pros: Low monthly fees, easy mode for beginners, easy-to-read keypad, turn-by-turn directions

Cons: Buttons fairly flat against surface

AT&T
Discontinued
 
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